Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
Author: Jean Hatzfeld
Translator: Linda Coverdale
Preface: Susan Sontag
In April through May 1994, 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis were massacred by their fellow Hutu citizens—about 10,000 a day, mostly being murdered by machete. In Machete Season, the veteran foreign correspondent Jean Hatzfeld reports on the results of his interviews with nine of the Hutu killers. They were all friends who came from a single region where they helped to kill 50,000 out of their 59,000 Tutsi neighbors, and all of them are now in prison, some awaiting execution. It is usually presumed that killers will not tell the truth about their brutal actions, but Hatzfeld elicited extraordinary testimony from these men about the genocide they perpetrated.
Adabert, Alphonse, Ignace, and the others (most of them farmers) told Hatzfeld how the work was given to them, what they thought about it, how they did it, and what their responses were to the bloodbath. "Killing is easier than farming," one says. "I got into it, no problem," says another. Each describes what it was like the first time he killed someone; what he felt like when he killed a mother and child; how he reacted when he killed a cordial acquaintance; and how “cutting” a person with a machete differed from ”cutting” a calf or a sugarcane. And they had plenty of time to tell Hatzfeld, too, about whether and why they had reconsidered their motives, their moral responsibility, their guilt, their remorse, or their indifference to the crimes.